The Power of Brevity

Here’s an interesting counterpoint to my recent posts on the peril of overly relying on PowerPoint to communicate clearly and thoroughly:

“[Business schools] should teach students how to communicate in five-sentence e-mails and with 10-slide PowerPoint presentations,” Alltop founder Guy Kawasaki tells the New York Times’ Adam Bryant (3/19/10). “If they just taught every student that, American business would be much better off.”

No one wants to read “War and Peace” e-mails. Ditto for 40 info-impacted PowerPoint slides. The more you explain, the more points you try to impart, the more overwritten your language, the more you’re likely to be ignored or, ironically, misunderstood. Little to nothing stands out — except, perhaps, little bits here and there that can be taken out of context and used against you later. (You know how some workplaces can be…)

Lesson: If you can’t say it in a few lines, have a face-to-face and follow up on that conversation with a memo of understanding. Okay, I’ll stop now.

A New Kind of Tweet

The Twitter micro-blogging service intends to mature into a formidable animal. Consequently, co-founder Biz Stone recently explained in his blog a new addition to the company’s aviary — Promoted Tweets. Translation: advertising.

It had to happen. Information may want to be “free,” but information providers and platforms don’t necessarily want to be, at least not forever.

Like other Tweets, the Promoted variety will be limited to 140 characters, and readers can respond to them or pass them along (“retweet”). The difference is, business and organizations pay to have placed at the top of relevant Twitter search results. They will be labeled as “promoted.”

Distinct from both traditional search advertising and more recent social advertising, promoted Tweets are start off as regular Tweets (they’re an “organic” part of regular Twitter). Promoted Tweets will also be timely, to connect the user in a real-time event, for example.

Much as Google does with unsuccessful AdWords, Twitter will drop a Tweet’s Promoted status if it doesn’t “resonate” with users (meaning they don’t respond to the Promoted Tweet in some way). Initial advertisers include Best Buy, Bravo, Red Bull, Sony Pictures, Starbucks, and Virgin America.